Merry Christmas to All? The “Happy Holidays” Debate

imageThe holidays are a time of peace, joy, love, giving…and uncomfortable political correctness? There’s been a lot of change in the way we greet one another and acknowledge this time of year. The meaning behind it is respect for all of our cultural differences, but does it do more harm than good?

Growing up a Jew in this country the only time of year I ever felt like a minority was during Christmas time. Brightly lit trees and Santas were everywhere during the month of December reminding me that there was this magnificent holiday that MOST people celebrated. I got it, this was a Christian country, I was the odd kid out, but when in Rome as they say. I embraced the well intentioned “Merry Christmas” strangers would say or the tree in my elementary school. Granted my cousins are Catholic so I probably got more involved in Christmas than many other Jewish kids, but I still don’t think this accounted for my non offense.

When did everybody become so darn sensitive? Now you’ve got this whole “Happy Holiday”movement going on, but don’t show me your holiday. Public schools and places of recreation not allowed to display trees, menorahs, and other symbols of the season are becoming common place. In all this effort to make everyone equal we are doing ourselves an injustice and possibly spreading feelings of prejudice. Whether Christian, Muslim, Buddhist we all could use some more joy…so why not spread it regardless of “who” a holiday belongs to?

I look at it this way, if a Christian wishes me a “Merry Christmas”, a Muslim wishes me “Eid Mubarak”, or an African American tells me “Joyous Kwanzaa”, why should I take offense? They are sharing the joy of their special day with me. I should feel honored, I should feel grateful.

I believe we need to take a step away from this overly sensitive culture we’ve created in regards to holidays. Life is challenging and often devoid of joy and full of monotony. If there’s a reason to celebrate, well “my” holiday or not, I’m going to seize the opportunity. I will trim my tree, light my candles, eat Chinese food on Chinese New Year, have soda bread on St. Patrick’s Day, and enchiladas on Cinco de Mayo. Join me in the spirit of appreciating everybody’s culture.

Recently I was shopping at one of the biggest department store chains in America. When the sales lady was done with my order I wished her a “Merry Christmas.” Her eyes lit up, “Thank you,” she said,”and a Merry Christmas to you. You know we are not allowed to say it unless it is said to us first?” “That’s a shame,” I replied. “We have to say ‘Happy Holidays’ so as to not offend anyone.” “Well you can tell corporate I said Merry Christmas…and I’m Jewish!”

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2 thoughts on “Merry Christmas to All? The “Happy Holidays” Debate

  1. I was raised Atheist, and my mother loved Christmas. She loved giving gifts, being with family, and would decorate the inside of our home like Winter Wonderland. I take no offence to “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holiday”.

    My mother died in 2005, and it is this time of year that I miss her the most.

  2. I often say “happy holidays” because I know many people who celebrate multiple things during the traditional “Christmas season”. I also lump New Years in as well, so for me, it’s less about not wanting to offend people and more about me wishing a joyous happy season to everyone!

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